SSARS 23 Changes Preparation and Compilation Standards

SSARS 23 amends SSARS 21 to encompass prospective information

The Accounting and Review Services Committee (ARSC) issued SSARS 23 in October 2016. Parts of the standard (e.g., that applying to supplementary information language in compilation and review reports) were effective immediately, while other parts (mainly regarding preparation and compilation of prospective information) are required as of May 1, 2017. This post tells you how SSARS 23 affects Preparation (AR-C 70) and Compilation (AR-C 80) engagements.

SSARS 23 changes preparation and compilation standards

You’ll recall that ARSC issued SSARS 21 back in October 2014. It was effective for years ending December 31, 2015. A clarified version of the compilation and review standards is included in SSARS 21. SSARS 21 also provides new guidance for the preparation of financial statements. The Standard did not address prospective financial statements. Why? The AICPA was working on clarifying the Attestation Standards (SSAE 18), the place where compiled prospective financial statement guidance was (previously) housed. With the issuance of SSARS 23, the AICPA moved this guidance from the Attestation Standards to SSARS.

The primary impact of SSARS 23 is to provide standards for the preparation and compilation of prospective financial information.

How Preparation of Financial Statements (AR-C 70) Changed

The Preparation Standard (AR-C 70) now includes guidance regarding prospective financial information. Since significant assumptions are essential to understanding prospective information, SSARS 23 requires their inclusion. The accountant should not prepare prospective financial information without including the disclosure of the summary of significant assumptions. Also, a financial projection should not be created unless it includes:

  • an identification of the hypothetical assumptions, or 
  • a description of the limitations on the usefulness of the presentation

SSARS 23 deletes the word “accordingly” from the AR-C 70 disclaimer; the change is shown below:

How Compilation Engagements (AR-C 80) Changed

AR-C 80, Compilation Engagements, now applies to compilations of prospective financial information (new with SSARS 23), pro forma financial information (see SSARS 22), and other historical information (as provided for in SSARS 21). 

SSARS 23 also clarifies that accountants must disclose known departures from the applicable financial reporting framework in the accountant’s compilation report. Prior to SSARS 23, accountants could disclose such departures in the notes without doing so in the compilation report.

Prospective Financial Information Guidance

Both AR-C 70 and AR-C 80 were amended to clarify that the AICPA Guide Prospective Financial Information provides comprehensive guidance regarding prospective financial information, including suitable criteria for the preparation and presentation of such information.

Clarification Projects Complete

The AICPA has clarified the audit standards (AU-C), the attestation standards (AT-C), and the SSARS (AR-C).

Short SSARS 23 Video

If you desire additional information about SSARS 23, check out my video:

SSARS 21 Book

If you need SSARS 21 guidance, see my book on Amazon.

Selected Disclosures in Preparation and Compilation Engagements

You can include one or two notes rather than all

Do you ever want to include just one disclosure in your financial statements without providing all the notes? Selected disclosures can be included in certain situations.

Do professional standards allow this? Yes. But only if you use AR-C 70 (the preparation guidance) or AR-C 80 (the compilation guidance).

selected disclosures

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Selected Disclosures in Compilations

As you probably already know, a CPA can issue compiled financial statements without disclosures as long as the compilation report discloses the omission. An example follows.

Management has elected to omit substantially all of the disclosures required by accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. If the omitted disclosures were included in the financial statements, they might influence the user’s conclusions about the Company’s financial position, results of operations and cash flows. Accordingly, the financial statements are not designed for those who are not informed about such matters.

If the financial statements include one or two notes, then the financial statements still omit substantially all of the disclosures, so the accountant (still) uses the wording in the preceding paragraph.

Sample Selected Disclosure

An example of a selected disclosure follows:

ABC Company

Selected Information –

Substantially All Disclosures Required by Accounting Principles

Generally Accepted in the United States of America are Not Included

December 31, 2017

Note 1. Long-Term Debt.

ABC Company borrowed $450,000 on July 15, 2017, from XYZ Bank. The rate of interest is 5%, and the loan is collateralized by equipment of the Company. Payments are $10,000 per month plus interest for two years with a balloon payment for the balance of the amount owed.

Preparation Engagements

AR-C 70 says:

The accountant may prepare financial statements that include disclosures about only a few matters in the notes to the financial statements. Such disclosures may be labeled “Selected Information—Substantially All Disclosures Required by [the applicable financial reporting framework] Are Not Included.”

So, the selected-disclosure option is available in a Preparation of Financial Statements engagement. Include the required disclaimer at the bottom of the page such as “No assurance is provided on these financial statements.” 

Other Considerations

The accountant should consider whether management’s election to include only selected disclosures causes the financial statements to be misleading (for example, by omitting the disclosures that contain negative information). If so, the accountant should request that the financial statements be revised to include the omitted disclosures.

The selected-disclosure option is not available for financial statements subject to a review engagement. Such financial statements must be full disclosure.

What About You?

Do you ever use this selected-disclosure option? Any reservations about doing so?

SSARS 23: Parts are Effective Immediately

SSARS 23 affects compilation and review reports

SSARS 23, Omnibus Statement on Standards for Accounting and Review Services–2016, was issued in late October 2016, but parts of the standard are applicable immediately.

SSARS 23 Changes Effective Now

The two key changes effective immediately are:

  1. An update of compilation and review report language regarding supplementary information
  2. You must now report departures from the applicable financial reporting framework in the compilation report
SSARS 23

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1. Update of Compilation and Review Report Language for Supplementary Information

The compilation and review report language regarding supplementary information changed with the issuance of SSARS 23.

Compilation Report Supplementary Information Language

The compilation report language regarding supplementary language is as follows:

Compilation Report Language for Supplementary Information Subject to Compilation Procedures

The accompanying [identify the supplementary information] is presented for purposes of additional analysis and is not a required part of the basic financial statements. Such information is the responsibility of management. The supplementary information was subject to our compilation engagement. We have not audited or reviewed the supplementary information and do not express an opinion, a conclusion, nor provide any assurance on such information.

Compilation Report Language for Supplementary Information Not Subject to Compilation Procedures

The accompanying [identify the supplementary information] is presented for purposes of additional analysis and is not a required part of the basic financial statements. Such information is the responsibility of management. The supplementary information was not subject to our compilation engagement. We do not express an opinion, a conclusion, nor provide any assurance on such information.

Review Report Supplementary Information Language

The review report language regarding supplementary language is as follows:

Review Report Language for Supplementary Information Subject to Review Procedures

Other Matter

The accompanying [identify the supplementary information] is presented for purposes of additional analysis and is not a required part of the basic financial statements. Such information is the responsibility of management and was derived from, and relates directly to, the underlying accounting and other records used to prepare the financial statements. The supplementary information has been subjected to the review procedures applied in our review of the basic financial statements. We are not aware of any material modifications that should be made to the supplementary information. We have not audited the supplementary information and do not express an opinion on such information.

Review Report Language for Supplementary Information Not Subject to Review Procedures

Other Matter

The accompanying [identify the supplementary information] is presented for purposes of additional analysis and is not a required part of the basic financial statements. Such information is the responsibility of management. We have not audited or reviewed such information and we do not express an opinion, a conclusion, nor provide any assurance on it.

2. Disclose Departures in the Compilation Report

SSARS 21 allowed CPAs to report departures from the applicable financial reporting framework either in the notes or in the compilation report. SSARS 23 requires that such departures be reported “in a separate paragraph” in the compilation report. In other words, you can no longer just disclose the departure in the notes to the financial statements.

Impact on Peer Reviews

So, what happens if a firm fails to make the revisions to the supplementary information paragraphs as discussed in 1. above?

The February 2017 AICPA Reviewer Alert (the newsletter that peer reviewers receive) says the following:

If a firm failed to update the language in the additional paragraph for review and compilation reports, it would generally not result in a deficiency or significant deficiency. The changes made by SSARS No. 23 in relation to supplementary information are considered further clarifications to existing requirements. Therefore, the following guidance is applicable; PRP Section 6200 Appendix E Areas of Common Noncompliance With Applicable Professional Standards;

List of Matters and Findings That Generally Would Not Result in a Deficiency
Reports
• Omission of phrases or use of phrases not in conformity with the appropriate standards for the report issued

Failing to make the revisions will not result in a deficiency or a significant deficiency in a peer review.

SSARS 21 Book

To see my SSARS 21 book on Amazon, click here.

 

Episode 7 – A Comparison of Preparation and Compilation Engagements under SSARS 21

You’ve been wondering how the Preparation of Financial Statements option in SSARS 21 compares with the Compilation Engagement option in the same standard. Maybe you’ve also been wondering, “Which is the best to use?” Here’s a brief summary of how the two standards compare as well as information about how to choose between the two.

Episode 6 – SSARS 21 Compilation Engagement Questions & Answers

Digging deeper into how compilations have changed

Today we take a look at compilation engagement issues such as:

  • What does the new compilation report look like?
  • Should a compilation report have a title and a salutation?
  • Should the financial statement pages refer to the compilation report?
  • How should a departure from the applicable reporting framework be communicated?
  • How should a going concern issue be communicated?
  • How does the use of the tax basis of accounting alter the compilation report?
  • What are the minimum work paper requirements?
  • Are you required to make inquiries in a compilation engagement?

Episode 5 – Compilation Engagements Using SSARS 21

Here are the basics to using the new compilation standard

This week we look at how compilation engagements have changed from SSARS 19 to SSARS 21. We also discuss what compilation engagement elements have not changed. We conclude by providing an overview of the objectives and requirements of the new compilation standard.

An overview of the podcast is as follows:

  • What are the key changes in compilation engagements?
  • What has not changed?
  • What are the objectives of a compilation?
  • What procedures must be performed?

SSARS 21 Reports – Preparation, Compilation and Review

Here are sample compilation and review reports

In this post, I provide comparisons of SSARS 19 (old standard) and SSARS 21 (new standard) compilation and review reports.

But first I provide the new SSARS 21 preparation (of financial statements) disclaimer–SSARS 19 had no such disclaimer. (If the accountant chooses not to use the disclaimer, he can put “no assurance is provided” on each page of the financial statements.) For more information about preparation of financial statements, as provided in SSARS 21, click here.

SSARS 21 is effective for all periods ending on or after December 15, 2015 and can be early implemented.

Courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

Courtesy of DollarPhoto.com

Preparation Disclaimer

Using SSARS 21, a disclaimer can be provided by an accountant that prepares financial statements and is not engaged to perform a compilation.

The preparation disclaimer follows:

The accompanying financial statements of XYZ Company as of and for the year ended December 31, 20XX, were not subjected to an audit, review, or compilation engagement by me (us) and, accordingly, I (we) do not express an opinion, a conclusion, nor provide any assurance on them.

[Signature of accounting firm or accountant, as appropriate]

[Accountant’s city and state]

[Date]

Compilation Reports

The SSARS 19 compilation report follows:

Accountant’s Compilation Report

[Appropriate Salutation]

I (we) have compiled the accompanying balance sheet of XYZ Company as of December 31, 20XX, and the related statements of income, retained earnings, and cash flows for the year then ended. I (we) have not audited or reviewed the accompanying financial statements and, accordingly, do not express an opinion or provide any assurance about whether the financial statements are in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

Management (owners) is (are) responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America and for designing, implementing, and maintaining internal control relevant to the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements.

My (our) responsibility is to conduct the compilation in accordance with Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The objective of a compilation is to assist management in presenting financial information in the form of financial statements without undertaking to obtain or provide any assurance that there are no material modifications that should be made to the financial statements.

[Signature of accounting firm or accountant, as appropriate]

[Date]

The SSARS 21 compilation report follows:

Management is responsible for the accompanying financial statements of XYZ Company, which comprise the balance sheets as of December 31, 20X2 and 20X1 and the related statements of income, changes in stockholder’s equity, and cash flows for the years then ended, and the related notes to the financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. I (We) have performed a compilation engagement in accordance with Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services promulgated by the Accounting and Review Services Committee of the AICPA. I (we) did not audit or review the financial statements nor was (were) I (we) required to perform any procedures to verify the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by management. Accordingly, I (we) do not express an opinion, a conclusion, nor provide any form of assurance on these financial statements.

[Signature of accounting firm or accountant, as appropriate]

[Accountant’s city and state]

[Date]

For more information about compilation engagements, based on SSARS 21, click here.

Review Reports

The SSARS 19 review report follows:

Independent Accountant’s Review Report

[Appropriate Salutation]

I (We) have reviewed the accompanying balance sheet of XYZ Company as of December 31, 20XX, and the related statements of income, retained earnings, and cash flows for the year then ended. A review includes primarily applying analytical procedures to management’s (owners’) financial data and making inquiries of company management (owners). A review is substantially less in scope than an audit, the objective of which is the expression of an opinion regarding the financial statements as a whole. Accordingly, I (we) do not express such an opinion.

Management (owners) is (are) responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America and for designing, implementing, and maintaining internal control relevant to the preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements.

My (our) responsibility is to conduct the review in accordance with Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services issued by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Those standards require me (us) to perform procedures to obtain limited assurance that there are no material modifications that should be made to the financial statements. I (We) believe that the results of my (our) procedures provide a reasonable basis for our report.

Based on my (our) review, I am (we are) not aware of any material modifications that should be made to the accompanying financial statements in order for them to be in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

[Signature of accounting firm or accountant, as appropriate]

[Date]

The SSARS 21 review report follows:

Independent Accountant’s Review Report

[Appropriate Addressee]

I (We) have reviewed the accompanying financial statements of XYZ Company, which comprise the balance sheets as of December 31, 20X2 and 20X1, and the related statements of income, changes in stockholders’ equity, and cash flows for the years then ended, and the related notes to the financial statements. A review includes primarily applying analytical procedures to management’s (owners’) financial data and making inquiries of company management (owners). A review is substantially less in scope than an audit, the objective of which is the expression of an opinion regarding the financial statements as a whole. Accordingly, I (we) do not express such an opinion.

Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Statements 

Management (Owners) is (are) responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these financial statements in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America; this includes the design, implementation, and maintenance of internal control relevant to the preparation and fair presentation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement whether due to fraud or error.

Accountant’s Responsibility 

My (Our) responsibility is to conduct the review engagements in accordance with Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services promulgated by the Accounting and Review Services Committee of the AICPA. Those standards require me (us) to perform procedures to obtain limited assurance as a basis for reporting whether I am (we are) aware of any material modifications that should be made to the financial statements for them to be in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America. I (We) believe that the results of my (our) procedures provide a reasonable basis for our conclusion.

Accountant’s Conclusion 

Based on my (our) reviews, I am (we are) not aware of any material modifications that should be made to the accompanying financial statements in order for them to be in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America.

[Signature of accounting firm or accountant, as appropriate]

[Accountant’s city and state]

[Date of the accountant’s review report]

Observations

The Accounting and Review Services Committee (ARSC) intentionally reformatted the compilation report in SSARS 21 to distinguish it from assurance service reports (a compilation is a nonassurance service). Compare the SSARS 21 compilation report above to the SSARS 21 review report (a review is an assurance service).

Notice the sample SSARS 21 compilation report has no:

  1. Report title (e.g., Independent Accountant’s Compilation Report) or
  2. Addressee/salutation
  3. Paragraph headers (and even no separate paragraphs)

I checked with the AICPA, and they advised that a compilation report title and salutation, while not required, is permissible.

Notice the SSARS 21 review report has section headers, as audit reports do. Both reviews and audits are, of course, assurance services–so the reports are formatted similarly.

Other Blog Posts

Here’s some additional SSARS 21 information:

SSARS 21 Book Available on Amazon.com

Are you looking for more information about SSARS 21? My new SSARS 21 book (ranked #1) is now available on Amazon.com. The book focuses on Section 70 of SSARS 21, Preparation of Financial Statements, and Section 80, Compilation Engagements. Click here to see the book on Amazon.com, and use the “Look Inside” feature to see excerpts (including the table of contents).